EXPERT Q&A

What can I do to best prepare for my next nanny job interview?

They say that people form an impression of you within the first 30 seconds of meeting. Author, Danny Rosenthal, explains how you can put your best foot forward.

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Question

They say that people form an impression of you within the first 30 seconds of a meeting. Besides practicing questions, how can I put my best foot forward to prepare for my next interview?

Answer

Interviews are your biggest chance to show families and agencies that you are a standout candidate and the caregiver they want to work with. Making a great first impression is important, and it lasts from 5 minutes before the interview until the door shuts behind you and you’re driving away. You will make a fantastic first impression by bringing your best self—your skills and experience, your honesty, your preparation, and your interview packet—so you shine the entire time.

Here are 7 insights I’ve learned from industry experts, my nanny peers, and my own experience.  

1) Know What You Want

Regina Stephenson, founder and owner of The Nanny Mom Agency, had said many caregivers go to interviews looking for a job without considering what type of role they are looking for. Not considering the role you want—and taking just any job—can quickly lead to job dissatisfaction.

If you were looking for jobs in other industries, you’d likely research companies to determine if one is a good fit for you and your skills. For example, suppose you are a certified master chef, you probably wouldn’t want to interview at Burger King.

Some factors to consider as you look for your next job include the ages of children you’d like to work with, your preferred scope of responsibilities and work schedule, and the compensation and benefits that you’re willing to accept.

2) Prepare Yourself for the Interview

It’s difficult to know what to expect during an interview. But there are numerous ways to prepare to put your best foot forward.

To start, it’s important to know that the family interviewing for a nanny or caregiver may have limited experience with this process, especially those looking for their first nanny. Being prepared going into the interview gives you a wonderful opportunity to show your professionalism and can actually put the family at ease.

For example, I once interviewed with a family who said they didn’t have any questions for me because they didn’t know what to ask. This allowed me to take the initiative. I suggested that I tell them about myself and my background as a caregiver, which gave them space to answer any questions that came up. I immediately saw a sign of relief and 30 minutes after the interview, my agency called to say the family loved me and had doubled their offer.  

3) Know the Role

Take another look at the job description and make sure you understand the responsibilities of the position and that you are willing and able to take them on.

From family-to-family, caregiver roles have commonalities, but they are never the same. The more you understand what the family is looking for, the more you can highlight your skills, background, and expertise that align with what the family wants.

4) Documents

Even if this is your third or fourth interview with the same family, always bring enough copies of your interview packet for everyone present. You may even want to bring an extra for the children if they are older.

Your packet should have a little heft. A former head writer of Saturday Night Live said that he knew when a sketch was done by how much the script weighed in his hand. A little weight to your interview materials lets families know intrinsically that you have substance to back up your credentials.

Like a Power Ranger’s Megazord, your interview packet is the combination of your resumé, certifications, and references, and is the best tool for your interview. As you write your resumé, consider this the one piece of paper the family needs to see to learn who you are. The best resumés have a brief summary of yourself at the top, which should include how your skills align with the best and most reflective components of the position description.

Bring:

  • Complete Interview Packet: Make your interview packet pages match the same heading, font, and type of paper.
    • Resumé
    • Cover Letter
    • 3+ Letters of recommendations (best if they are from previous families)
    • Certificates of specialized training (CPR, First Aid, Newborn Care, Crisis Intervention, etc.)
  • Two pens (in case one dries up)
  • Notepad for note-taking
  • Questions for the family
  • Portfolio

Don’t Bring:

  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Gum

5) Interview Question Prep

Think about and prepare thoughtful answers to standard questions in advance of your interview. This will push your professionalism over the finish line. Be sure, however, not to sound like a robot when answering the questions. Your passion for the work should shine through as you speak.

Some questions are more standard than others. For example, “What was your major in college?” may be a common question in interviews. Whether you went to school to become a teacher or a film director, your answers should offer substance and help a family see why you are the most qualified person for the job and the best fit for their family. To this end, avoid providing answers such as “The film industry is a hard field to get into” or “I like teaching but didn’t like working with the school’s administration.” Each one of your answers needs to show your passion for at-home child caregiving. If you majored in teaching, you might try: “I enjoyed being a teacher but found that I love the one-on-one connection I can have as a nanny.” Or, if you are a film major, you might say, “I love learning about film, but with my 5 years of experience as a nanny, this is what I’m most passionate about.”

It is okay if you don’t have an immediate answer to every question. Take a moment to think and then share your thoughts.

The Top Five Questions from a Family from Nanny ABCs:

  1. What do you enjoy most about children?
  2. What is your background in childcare?
  3. How long have you been a nanny?
  4. What was your role as a nanny in other families?
  5. Why did you leave your last position?

View all the interview questions CareNectar recommends parents ask here!

Tip: Don’t just think about your answers. Write them down and say them out loud. Better still, find someone to role play with and give your interview a test drive.

6) Questions for the Family

Believe it or not, you are on equal footing. You are interviewing this family just as much as they are interviewing you. Being equipped with a few questions will do more than prove how professional you are. It will help ensure this family and position are the right fit for you.

The family might answer all your questions before you ask them. That’s absolutely fine if they do, but chances are there will be a few things they forget to mention.

Examples:

  • What are the hours?
  • What does a normal day look like?
  • Will I need to drive? If so, are you providing a car or would we use mine?

There is one question that can give you tremendous insight. A 20+ year seasoned caregiver shared the most important and powerful question you can ask a family: “What is important to you?”

It is worth sharing that your queries aren’t to impress, prove how much you know, or stump the family: you are simply looking for more information about the role.

7) Attire

There is no better time than an interview to dress for success. Looking good is feeling good, but it also makes an immediate impact on the family or agency you’re interviewing for. Dressing up and being well-groomed shows a family that meeting them is important to you and is an instant sign of respect.

Wear something that makes you look nice and feel amazing, but also allows you to move around since you’re likely to be on the floor playing with children.

Due to the pandemic, you may have your first interviews virtually over Zoom or another video meeting platform. Zoom meetings have become increasingly popular and are more than likely here to stay. Whether you are interviewing in-person or on Zoom, you should still dress up, but meeting over the “small screen” leaves a few more details for you to take care of.

  1. Have an uncluttered background.
  2. Have the camera at your eye level—not below you so you are looking down or above so you are looking up.
  3. Be well-lit on camera. Having light on only part of your face is more like auditioning for a horror film than interviewing for a caregiver position. A ring light is a cheap and amazingly effective solution, and if you’re a budding influencer, you might already have one!

Summary

There is hardly ever going to be one make-it-or-break-it moment in an interview. However, making a good impression is as simple as preparing, being honest with who you are and what you are looking for, and doing your best to share what you have to offer.

We wish you luck as you move forward with the interview process, and please let us know how it goes!

Recommended Resource

Meet The Expert


Danny Rosenthal

Known as Danny J Nanny, he is the author behind Nanny ABCs: The Sitter’s Handbook and the host of Nanny ABCs’ Next Step. Rosenthal created Nanny ABCs to simplify childcare. His program keeps families and caregivers from reinventing the wheel. He has been recognized by Chicago Collegiate Nannies for his Outstanding Performance and Rosenthal’s expertise has been featured by the US Nanny Association, Care.com, and the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. Learn more and connect with Danny J Rosenthal at www.NannyABCs.com or via social media @NannyABCs